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Full text of "My Country And My People"

150          MY    COUNTRY   AND   MY    PEOPLE

about all the marriageable young men of her class in town, and
secretly distributed her approval and disapproval in her heart.
If by casual chance she met one of the approved young men,
even though it was only an exchange of glances, more than
likely she succumbed, and had no more of the peace of mind
of which she had been so proud. Then a period of secret,
stolen courtship began. In spite of the fact that an exposure
would mean shame and often suicide and in spite of the full
consciousness that by so doing she was defying all codes of
moral conduct and braving social censure, she would meet her
young man. And love always found a way.

In the mad, mutual attraction of sex it was impossible to say
who was wooing and who was being wooed. A girl had many
ingenious ways of making her presence felt. The most innocent
form was showing one's small red shoes beneath the wooden
partitions.  Another was standing on the verandah at sunset.
Another was accidentally showing one's face amidst peach
blossoms. Another was going to the lantern festivals of January
and June at night. Another was playing on the cKin> a stringed
instrument, and letting the young man in the next house hear
it.  Another was asking the teacher of her younger brother to
correct her poetry, with the younger brother as the messenger
boy. The teacher, if he were young and romantic, might send
a verse in reply.   Still another means of communication was
the maid-servant, or the sympathetic sister-in-law, or the cook's
wife next door, or the nun.   If both parties were attracted to
each other, a secret meeting could always be arranged. Such
meetings were extremely unhealthy; the young girl did nol
know how to protect herself, and love, which had been denied
its gay flirtations, came back with a revenge, as all Chinese
love stories portray, or wish to portray.   She might come
to expect a child. A real period of ardent courtship and love-
making  followed,   overpowering   and  yet  tender,   precioui
because it was stolen, and generally too happy to last.

In this situation anything might happen. The young man o:
the young lady might become betrothed to others by n<
consent of their own, and the girl regret having lost he
chastity. Or the young man might go away and, becomin;
successful in his official examinations, might have a wif